Just when you thought LinkedIn.com was a career site for finding your next job, along comes new, primary research from Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee showing that LinkedIn is now the most important sales tool in a sales rep's arsenal.
3,094 sales professionals, representing a broad base of outside and inside sales reps, sales managers, consultants and entrepreneurs from small, midsize and large companies, participated in this survey.
Of this total, 4.9 percent were categorized as Top Sellers.
Top Sellers are those individuals who attribute the majority of their new business opportunities and revenue to their use of LinkedIn.
"That means there's a whole slew of people out there who don't have a clue about what these people are doing. You can say these Top Sellers are spending time on groups or they have a really good profile, but you don't know how they're working or anything about their thought-process and their mindset," said Jill Konrath, co-author of Cracking The LinkedIn Sales Code, an eBook which summarizes the research findings.
"I'm hoping that after reading our research, people who aren't in this top 4.9 percent will say, 'I never thought it could be done this way... and I can do it, too,'" Konrath added.
What is it these Top Sellers are doing on LinkedIn that others are not? Here's a summary of the research:
Top Sellers are strategic. There's a whole strategy behind everything they do.
They spend much more time on LinkedIn than their colleagues (six hours or more per week).
LinkedIn is viewed as essential to their business. It's literally part of their sales DNA and they can't imagine how they'd live without it.
They're not just dabbling and looking people up. Instead, they have a targeted database and they use LinkedIn to create strategic searches to identify the people that they want to go after.
They join the groups their target market belongs to and start participating in the groups, thereby allowing them to initiate conversations with group members.
Top Sellers are very deliberate about building their profiles so that it reads nothing like a resume or sell-sheet. Rather, their profile is about the challenges a client might face and the kind of results clients can expect.
Because LinkedIn lets you upload content into your profile, they'll also include relevant case studies, webinars or SlideShare presentations.
As we learned from The Challenger Sale, the biggest differentiator in making a sale is often how well the sales rep is able to create the perception as a relevant, knowledgeable, problem-solver. It seems this new LinkedIn research supports the idea that LinkedIn may very well be a Challenger Sales Rep's favorite sales tool.